Imagine you have a fantastic software idea that you want to implement in a short period. But you're not a programmer. Or perhaps you don't have the time or resources to do the project all by yourself. So you contact a software company and share your brilliant concept with them.

When the time comes for delivery, you find that the company's idea of "fantastic software" is different from yours. Your efforts and money have been wasted! For this reason, you need to know how to properly outsource software development tasks.

So what's the best way to do that? For starters, you need to fully understand your project expectations and make the scope of work clear to the contractor. One of the best ways to do this is to create a good project requirement document.

If you don't know how to read on.

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Table of Content

  1. Why Develop a Project Requirement Document?
  2. Scope of Work
  3. Critical Elements of a Good Project Requirement Document
  4. Bottom Line

Why Develop a Project Requirement Document?

If you're reluctant to spend time developing this document, you need to know the benefits of such a document for a software outsourcing project.

Speeds Up the Project

The more adjustments you make, the longer it will take and the more money it will cost. If you value time and money, it pays to establish enough detail in advance to minimize last-minute changes.

The more time and thought you and your staff put into defining the desired project outcome, the more likely you will get it right the first time.

Improves Budget Management

Some people don't want to help you plan the project's scope and set your priorities. However, those same people will pressure you to cut expenses and keep them low.

You can adequately manage your costs if you know what's in scope. The more consistent your criteria - or your final objective - the easier it will be to see how much it will cost to achieve that goal and how much you are willing to pay.

Improves Time Management

In this case, your timetable mirrors your budget. It's impossible to schedule work if you don't know the whole idea or what's on the horizon.

You can prepare if you have a solid understanding of your offering. You can schedule personnel to do the tasks. Set it up so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. You can let other project managers know when staff are free for certain tasks.

Everything runs more smoothly now! You can predict more reliably when the project will end if you have a clear idea of the requirements.

Scope of Work

Scoping a software project can be very time-consuming if you're in charge of the entire project's lifecycle. But as a company, you don't need to go too far.

You can submit essential information and leave the rest to a software development company. Since your frequent contact with the project team will likely be limited, outsourcing software development requires high-quality documented requirements.

You will submit a request for proposal/RFP, a set of specifications, and final assessment criteria to the vendor. Before the vendor begins development, both sides will conduct a review and come to an agreement, sometimes through negotiations and revisions.

Clarity is Key

A significant cause of outsourcing project failure is the lack of clearly defined, precise requirements. When you outsource to a remote team, you won't have the same access to quick clarifications, decisions, and changes as when you work with engineers and customers in the same office. It's typical for the vendor to follow your instructions exactly, especially if they operate offshore.

They'll give no more (and usually no less) than you asked for. Mostly, they won't ask any questions either. The provider is unlikely to meet the implied and assumed needs that you thought were too obvious to document.

Use Visual Aids

Similar to on-site development, visual tools help clarify functional and non-functional requirements for contracted teams.

These tools are even more helpful when you are working with people from different languages and cultures, as they give developers something to judge their initial interpretation. Developers need to be familiar with the notations you use to properly understand the diagrams.

Prototypes Can Help

Prototypes play a critical role in defining requirements and criteria. Similarly, the developer can develop prototypes to show you their interpretation of the requirements and their plan to meet them. This can increase the number of interaction points between the client and the contractor to make the necessary adjustments as quickly as possible.

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Critical Elements of a Good Project Requirement Document

Such a document is incomplete without the following key elements:

Goal

The project's purpose should be the first thing you describe in your request for proposal/RFP. Determine what problem the software will solve and who are the intended users. Briefly describe the product's scope and demonstrate the value it will provide to the target user.

Clear Requirements

Developers will have a simpler time planning and implementing the project if there are more defined functional and non-functional requirements. Both should be clarified in their own way:

  • Functional requirements specify what the software should do and how it will meet user needs. You should also set the success criteria for such functional requirements to determine whether they have been completed and are working as intended.
  • Aesthetics, performance, quality, security, and others are examples of non-functional requirements. They can be considered add-ons to the software that shows its level of performance.

If you're not clear on these requirements, a software consulting service can help you find your specific needs and even determine the relevant criteria.

Success Criteria

Determine ahead of time how you'll judge the project's success and whether the product is satisfactory. What criteria will you use to decide whether to pay the vendor in full? If the requirements are not met, who needs to make the adjustments and who will pay for them?

Establish the success criteria in the scope of work so that the provider is aware of your requirements from the beginning. Validate the criteria before you give them to the vendor to ensure the end result meets your expectations.

One way to do this is to use KPIs ( Key Performance Indicators). Evaluating these KPIs for different aspects of the project will help you determine the project's success. Two common KPIs are:

  • Financial Indicators: Changes in capital expenditures, infrastructure investments, ROI, and other metrics can help you determine if the team adhered to the budget plan or not.
  • Service level indicators: Customer satisfaction, security standards, clear documentation, and other measures suggest that your software development outsourcing provider is doing an excellent job.

Define specific KPIs to monitor the development team's progress in all critical aspects based on your project and business goals. This is critical to the success of all outsourced projects.

Bottom Line

The project requirement document with a clear scope of work is crucial because it provides a central information source to help you determine and oversee requirements during the whole process.

Of course, it always helps to have a reliable, experienced team of software development professionals like The One Technologies to take you to step by step and answer any unanswered questions. On top of that, you need a custom software development company to perform exactly according to your operational needs and your budget. It's not that hard! All you need to do is to contact us and let us show you the way.

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